An all-star squad should provide Club Kawana Bowls Club with a prime chance to win the state league, while providing the sport with a massive boost in the region.
The Wurtulla-based club has recruited strongly to form a team which has been touted as the best on the Sunshine Coast for a decade.
They’re expected to be genuine contenders in the Premier League Queensland.
Julie Keegan, Katelyn Inch, Ryan Burnett and Brett Wilkie have joined Peter Leon and Kurt Brown at the club.
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Sunshine Coast Men’s District Bowls Association secretary Barry Ashby said the group was “unbelievable”.
“Kawana has achieved more than most bowls clubs would ever have achieved in attaining these players.
“They would be the strongest club on the Sunshine Coast in the last 10 years without a shadow of a doubt.”
Club Kawana were runner-up in the Queensland league two years ago and they’re expected to press claims for victory in 2021.
“If they don’t make the final, I will be very surprised,” Ashby said.
Keegan is a powerhouse on the Australian bowls scene and has been for some time. The 56-year-old Coolum product won the 2008 world fours title.
Inch, 25, is the reigning New Zealand singles and pairs champion and she combined with Keegan to win the 2019 Australian pairs crown.
Inch’s partner Burnett, 27, was the 2015 world under-25 champion and he won 2017 and 2018 Australian fours titles.
Peter Leon captured the Queensland singles title last year at the age of 72, 16 years after previously winning it.
Wilkie, 46, was a world fours champion in 2012 and 2016 and is the current CEO of Bowls Queensland.
Meanwhile, Brown was a 2010 national triples champion and the 30-year-old is the bowls director at Kawana.
The six are likely to provide Club Kawana with a strong chance in the premier league, with their first fixture at home scheduled for January 15.
The players could compete in several other key events, like the Australian Open, state championships and world championships.
Ashby said the star bowlers were attracted to the club because it is a growing force with a burgeoning reputation.
“Once a club gains strength, players go to it and it becomes even better.”
Arrivals could spark bowls growth
Ashby said their recruitment could signal a new era for the sport on the Sunshine Coast.
“We want to try and boost the image of bowls here and this (their arrival) is a very good start,” he said.
“Bowls has suffered a bit in the last number of years (on the Sunshine Coast).
“We’ve been the poor cousins to the Gold Coast.
“What this may do is encourage another club on the Sunshine Coast to build as well and attempt to get into the premier league.”
Ashby said Maroochydore, Coolum and Mooloolaba were capable of building their profiles.
“But to entice (marquee) players is a reasonably hard job. You’ve got to have someone (already) there to attract them … and it costs a fair bit to play in the premier league,” he added.
Ashby said the Sunshine Coast boasts several clubs and signature events, including the annual Winter Bowls Carnival.
The weeks-long festival usually attracts thousands of people and includes multiple events at various clubs.
And the region’s bowls scene has been bolstered by the inclusion of the Glasshouse Country Bowls Club, which has moved from the Moreton Bay association.
The hinterland club has been dubbed by Ashby as “progressive” with a talented junior base.